In 1905, the Continental Motor Co. was created in Muskegon. They built auto engines and later got into motors for aircraft. They quickly became very successful and the time came when it was needed to grow…another facility became necessary. And so to Detroit they came.

On July 1, 1912, manufacturing began in Detroit. Although not yet well-known, Continental’s Detroit plant helped crank out approximately one hundred different makes and models. The Detroit Free Press claimed “The new factory has a capacity far in excess of the Muskegon plant." Even so, in the first half of the 1930s, as Continental began manufacturing the own line of automobiles, the local competition was too difficult to keep up with.

As with many other big businesses, they had their share of employee problems and snafus, according to Historic Detroit:

1) In 1920, an addition to the factory was under construction; while this was going on, the company had to use a shed in lieu of a pay office. It wasn’t long until someone figured the shed was easy to break into. $1,000 ($13,000 today) worth of employee pay envelopes were stolen. Two employees of Continental came under suspicion and were held.

2) During Christmas of 1943, the company demanded the workers to work on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. ‘Oh yeah?’ thought the employees. On December 24, Christmas Eve day, six thousand workers showed up smashed and too inebriated to work. They were sent home. Hopeful for the second shift to be more sober and productive proved to be a lost cause…they, too, arrived at the plant drunk and not fit for work. Disgusted, mad, and feeling hopeless, factory bosses shut down until 11pm when the midnight shift came in, ready for work.

During WWII, Continental was part of the Detroit "Arsenal of Democracy", helping the war effort with aircraft and combat motors and parts. After business began to decline after WWII, and the U.S. joined the Korean War in 1950, Continental was again called upon.

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But as before, the war ended and business declined once again. In 1965, the Detroit Engine Corp. bought the rights to Continental Motors and in late 1969, what was left of Continental was taken over by Teledyne.

In the 60s and 70s, most of the plant was demolished. Buildings that remained held hope that production could start up again. In the 1980s, it was bought by Continental Aluminum who began their own manufacturing. However, it was short-lived as residents complained, fined, and petitioned thanks to the toxicity from the company’s metal recycling. Continental Aluminum moved to New Hudson in 1998. From then on, time took its toll on the old Continental plant.

In 2008, it was demolished.
In 2011 looters and scrappers dismantled and took off with the tower.
Today, the lot sits empty.

The gallery below takes you inside the old plant before demolition took place…

Abandoned Continental Motors, Detroit


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